Liberal Arts College Graduates Feel Better Prepared For Life's Challenges, Study Finds

November 11, 2011

Gaining admission to graduate school, or generally preparing to meet life's challenges, graduates of Whittier College and other residential liberal arts institutions give their college experience higher marks than do graduates of private or public universities. This study, released today, was commissioned by the Annapolis Group, a consortium of America's leading liberal arts colleges.

Among the study's career-related findings:
- Seventy-six percent of liberal arts college graduates rated their college experience highly for  preparing them for their first job, compared to 66 percent who attended public flagship universities;

- Eighty-nine percent of liberal arts college graduates reported finding a mentor while in college, compared to 66 percent for public flagship universities;

- Sixty percent of liberal arts college graduates said they felt "better prepared" for life after college than students who attended other colleges, compared to 34 percent who attended public flagship universities; and

- Liberal arts college graduates are more likely to graduate in four years or fewer, giving them a head start on their careers.

Conducted by higher education consulting firm Hardwick Day, the study is based on a total of 2,700 telephone interviews made in 2002 and again in the summer of 2011. It is one of only a few studies that explore the lasting effects of college through alumni interviews.

“The results of this study come as no surprise, and frankly only add to the mounting evidence supporting the true value of liberal arts programs,” said Whittier President Sharon Herzberger in response to the report. “At Whittier, and among fellow Annapolis Group institutions, we know the kind of top-notch education we deliver and the impact it has on our graduates. At its core, our curriculum prepares our students to be flexible, analytical, and solution-focused, endowing them with the very skills they need to be successful in whatever professional or personal path they choose to follow. And we are confident this works because we see it in action every day.”

“Our graduates over the decades can back us up. We have educated doctors, lawyers, teachers, business professionals, social workers, engineers, and almost any other career you can imagine. As one of three western colleges to produce a U.S. president we know what a liberal arts educated individual can achieve.”

"This is valuable information for families about how well liberal arts colleges educate the whole person and the real contribution that the college experience makes to success after graduation," said Philip A. Glotzbach, president of Skidmore College and chair of the Annapolis Group's executive committee. "This study shows that our graduates feel they are better prepared than most for life, for the job market, for graduate and professional schools, for pursuing a rewarding career, and for the surprises and challenges they know they will face in the future."

The Annapolis Group, a non-profit alliance of 130 residential liberal arts colleges, commissioned the survey to determine how its graduates perceive the effectiveness of its member institutions in comparison to others, (